Originally published by The Stranger
Daniel Ramirez Medina, the 23-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipient arrested after immigration officials raided his father’s home last year, was imprisoned for a month and a half in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma before authorities released him last March. At the time, officials temporarily placed Ramirez in the gang unit, citing a tattoo with the name of Ramirez’s hometown as evidence of a gang affiliation, and stripped him of his DACA status. (Ramirez’s lawyers additionally furnished a document showing that immigration officials may have clumsily doctored a written statement from Ramirez in order to justify his detention there.)
Now, Ramirez is fighting to get his DACA status back.
Ramirez’s case drew national attention last year because of its timing—he was the first DACA recipient arrested under Trump—and its implications for DACA recipients across the country. In order to obtain DACA status, a person’s record has to be squeaky clean: DACA recipients undergo multiple background tests and must either be in school, have successfully completed high school, or have served in the military in order to apply. But if DACA recipients are arrested, their status is automatically revoked.
Ramirez twice passed these background checks for DACA authorization—neither of which determined he had any kind of gang affiliation—in order to work in the United States. But Ramirez’s contact with immigration officials marked his first arrest, and because his DACA status was immediately revoked, federal lawyers argued that he wasn’t subject to the protections that the DACA program had promised to its members.
Last year, Ramirez’s lawyers—one of whom is a DACA recipient himself—argued that Ramirez was unlawfully detained and denied due process. On Tuesday, those lawyers filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to restore Ramirez’s DACA status while the lawsuit is pending.
“Quite simply, Daniel must have his DACA status restored because it never should have been removed in the first place,” said Ethan Dettmer, a member of Ramirez’s legal team, said in a statement. “Daniel is the father of a U.S. citizen, and the government admits Daniel is not a threat to public safety, yet he was kept behind bars for six weeks and is being deprived of the ability to earn a living and support his family. Daniel should have the benefits that the government promised him—the right to work and support his family and the right to not live in fear of arbitrary arrest.”